Stocks finished higher for a second day, but ultimately closed little changed as the the dollar climbed, and bonds paused a sell off that had sent yields to the highest levels of the year earlier this week.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,032.10, +31.70, (0.18%)
- S&P 500: 2,108.01, +2.81, (0.13%)
- Nasdaq: 5,080.44, +3.75, (0.07%)
And now, the top stories on Thursday:
- Retail sales beat expectations in May and posted the biggest gain in 14 months. Sales rose 1.2% in May and 1% when excluding auto sales. Excluding the gas and auto category, retail sales rose 0.7%, better than expected. Sales rose 2.7% year-over-year, and are up 2.1% over the last three months versus the same period last year. Some of the bigger increases came from spending at gas stations, clothing stores, and bars and restaurants. In a client note after the report, Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth wrote, “Together with the more upbeat news from the first-quarter Quarterly Services Survey, released yesterday, the upward revisions to retail sales mean that first-quarter consumption growth will be revised higher. Indeed, it is now possible that GDP didn’t actually contract in the first quarter.”
- Initial jobless claims rose to 279,000 last week, more than the expectation for 275,000. This marked the 14th straight week that unemployment claims came in below 300,000. The four-week moving average of claims stands at 278,750 — up from 274,750 in the prior week.
- US import prices rose 1.3% in May, the first increase in 10 months. The gain was led by a 12.7% jump in petroleum prices, the largest increase since June 2009. In a client note, Barclays economists wrote, “The stage is now set for a gradual near-term rebound in domestic inflation that should support confidence among FOMC members that inflation will indeed rise toward their 2% target over the medium term.”
- US household net worth rose by $US1.63 trillion to $US84.9 trillion in the first quarter, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Flow of Funds report. That’s a 2.2% jump year-over-year. Household debt rose 2.2% in the quarter, consumer credit rose 5.6%, and mortgage debt excluding charge-offs fell 0.3% at an annual rate.
The IMF pulled out its team negotiating with Greece in Brussels. It said “no progress” had been made on its “major differences” with the Greek government, according to Bloomberg. Stocks fell slightly on the news, but the reaction was stronger in European markets. Germany’s Dax fell over 100 points, and the 10-year German bund yield fell to as low as 0.875%, after crossing 1% earlier Thursday.
- In a note Wednesday, Credit Suisse analysts wrote, “we think there is a 60% to 70% chance that we end up in an equity bubble in the medium term, albeit with the inevitable road bumps along the way.” They don’t think the bubble has already formed, though. They note that there hasn’t been a 10% correction in stocks for a while. Loose monetary policy, lower oil prices, and increased retail buying of stocks could be catalysts in some way.
- Rupert Murdoch is planning to step down as CEO of 21st Century Fox. CNBC reports via multiple sources close to the Murdoch family that the 84-year-old will hand the title to his son James. Lachlan, Murdoch’s other son, is expected to serve as executive co-chairman. An announcement is expected soon, according to CNBC. Shares of 21st Century Fox were lower but little changed for much of the trading day.
- Lululemon founder Chip Wilson may dump his entire stake in the company, according to a regulatory filing submitted today. Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the situation, that Wilson could invest up to $US300 million in the expansion and rollout of Kit & Ace stores in the next few years. Wilson left the board earlier this year after disputes with other directors. Lululemon shares slumped by up to 2%.
- Shares of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts rallied by up to 17%, the most in two years, after the company reported strong first quarter sales. Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz writes that it’s a sign that modern consumers are saying they want healthier options, but are making the opposite choices. Same-store sales jumped 5.2%, crushing the estimate for 1.4%, and adjusted earnings per share of 24 cents beat the forecast for 22 cents, according to Bloomberg.
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